This Is How Sikkim Plans To Deal With Its ‘Non-Performing’ Employees: Bench Them

by Jaideep Mazumdar - Apr 7, 2022 01:07 PM +05:30 IST
This Is How Sikkim Plans To Deal With Its ‘Non-Performing’ Employees: Bench ThemSikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay
Snapshot
  • Sikkim CM Golay, has said that non-performing government employees will be shunted to a new department where they will have little to do and will be denied the usual perks.

    Golay has been trying to discipline government staff, and a year ago, he launched a strict campaign to force employees to be punctual.

The tiny state of Sikkim has come up with a novel way of dealing with ‘non-performing’ government employees. These employees, be they doctors, engineers, accountants or general staff, will be shunted to a newly-created department where they will have little to do and will be denied the usual perks as well.

Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay, who has been advocating strong measures against employees who report late for work or shirk work, said earlier this week that non-performing government employees will be shunted to a new department that has been created.

An order signed by state Chief Secretary S.C Gupta and issued on Monday (4 April) stated that a ‘Directorate of Coordination’ is being created “with immediate effect”. The directorate will function under the state home department and will have officers from “all organised services, including departmental and technical services of different cadres at all levels”.

The Chief Secretary’s order (No. 26/Home/2022) stated that the new directorate’s mandate will be “coordination of work as assigned”. Senior officers of the state government told Swarajya that the mandate has been kept vague so that the non-performing employees who are shunted to this directorate can be used for all sorts of tasks.

Chief Minister Golay, speaking at a meet of entrepreneurs in state capital Gangtok on Monday, said that non-performing employees and officers, including engineers, accounts officers “or even the likes of additional chief secretary who do not work and become an obstacle for public work” will be transferred to the new directorate.

Looking at senior officers who were present at the gathering, Golay asked them to perform their duties diligently. The Chief Minister said that non-performing employees create hurdles and, hence, should be shunted out so that efficient employees can perform productively.

Speaking to Swarajya over the phone from Gangtok, a senior Cabinet Minister who did not want to be identified since he is not the government spokesperson said that no vehicle will be allocated to the new directorate and even senior officers posted there will have to use their personal vehicles or public transport.

The officers and staff at the ‘Directorate of Coordination’ will not be invited for high-profile government functions, and will not be eligible for any awards or incentives. They will get the lowest preference when it comes to official privileges like allotment of accommodation and other facilities. The new directorate, said the Minister, will perhaps be housed in some out-of-use government building or a warehouse and will have only basic facilities and paraphernalia.

The idea, the Minister added, was to shame these non-performing government employees. The Chief Minister, he added, feels that only a small section of government employees and staff are unproductive and shirk their duties, but they impede the work of others and hinder progress.

“These employees hold up work and create various obstacles in the functioning of others. So it is best that they be put in a department which has no work. They will only get their salaries and nothing else. Instead of working for the public, they have become obstacles and people suffer because of them,” said the Chief Minister.

The Minister, who was present at the cabinet meeting where the decision to set up this new directorate was finalised, said that the new directorate’s mandate has been kept deliberately vague so that the staff posted there can be given “sundry and thankless” tasks. “The employees of the new directorate will probably be given tasks like decorating venues of government functions and peripheral assignments at events,” the Minister said.

The move has evoked a mixed reaction with many welcoming the move while some have criticised it. But all agree that a posting in the new directorate will be a matter of shame and officers and staff posted there will become tainted and objects of derision and ridicule.

“Instead of doing all this, the government should initiate departmental proceedings against non-performing employees and ask them. Also, the new directorate may turn out to be a convenient place to house ‘inconvenient’ and upright officers who refuse to carry out illegal diktats of ministers or ruling MLAs,” said Santosh K. Pradhan, a retired bureaucrat.

But, say those who support the government’s move, drawing up departmental proceedings against non-performing bureaucrats is a long-drawn process that often gets bogged down in litigations. And instances of errant or inefficient employees getting punished or sacked through normal procedures is very rare.

Golay has, for quite some time now, been trying to discipline government staff and get them to deliver. Exactly a year ago, he launched a strict campaign to force employees to be punctual and get to their offices on time.

Golay had publicly asked government employees who do not like to work to opt for voluntary retirement. He had declared that he would do away with time-bound promotions and penalise those who do not work.

An extensive punctuality drive was launched all over the state last year and the government even started publicly naming those who reported late for work (read this). But, as is usually the case, the drive fizzled out after about a month.

This time, however, Golay means business. He has promised that while no inefficient employee would be spared, no one will also be victimised. And there will be adequate checks and balances to ensure that no officer or employee is unfairly posted to the ‘Directorate of Coordination’.

Also Read: All-Weather Motorable Road: India’s Easternmost Tip To Wake Up To A New Dawn This Month-End

Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.

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